my two cents 1000

Holy guacamole! Here’s an industry news shocker that’s breaking around the newswires as we speak: Walt Disney Studios has just announced that they’ve purchased George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd for an estimated $4.05 billion. This includes the rights to the Star Wars franchise among other properties. What’s more, Disney has announced that they plan to make at least one and maybe several new Star Wars sequels, beginning with the release of Episode VII in 2015! WOW.

Here’s a quote from the original announcement: “Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a release announcing the deal. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

Just when you thought the Star Wars franchise had been milked right into the ground, the cycle begins anew. There’s obviously going to be TONS of additional details and coverage of this breaking news in the hours, days and weeks ahead, so we’ll check back here with updates as more information comes in. Meanwhile, additional details can be found at Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

UPDATE – 1PM: We’re hearing that the deal also includes Lucasfilm’s technology companies – LucasArts, Industrial Light + Magic and Skywalker Sound. It MAY also include Lucas’ share of the Indiana Jones franchise as well, which would make Disney a partner with Paramount on future projects. Additional stories here at the L.A. Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Statement by George Lucas: “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

UPDATE – 3 PM: Here are new and updated details on this deal from the official Disney investors’ conference call this afternoon:

  • Deal signed and announced earlier today – includes Star Wars franchise and all Lucasfilm operating businesses.
  • Indiana Jones franchise rights ARE also included in this deal.
  • Disney loves the Indiana Jones franchise, but it wasn't included in the studio’s Lucasfilm valuation due to its “encumbrances” (meaning existing financial/legal involvement of Paramount).
  • First project under the joint under Disney/Lucas partnership will be Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015, followed by Episode 8 and Episode 9.
  • Disney purchased “extensive and detailed” treatment for Episodes 7-9 as part of this deal which they “feel very good about.”
  • Disney long term plan is to release a new live-action Star Wars film every 2-3 years – films may eventually explore entire 20,000 year time-span of the franchise.
  • It’s Lucas’ plan to stay retired, but he will serve as creative consultant on new Star Wars films. Kathleen Kennedy will executive produce. Both are now sitting down with writers to discuss stories.
  • Fox retains certain distribution rights to the existing Star Wars films but not the new franchise films going forward.
  • Kennedy will serve as Lucasfilm president, reporting to Bob Iger at Disney.
  • Disney plans to expand Star Wars brand into many new product categories and internationally.
  • Star Wars brand will also be expanded into Disney parks, games and TV businesses.
  • Iger feels Disney XD would be a good TV home for the franchise going forward.
  • Star Wars interactive strategy: Disney will focus more on social and mobile platforms, opportunistically on consoles.
  • Deal was 50% cash and 50% stock – $4.05 billion
  • Disney believes Lucasfilm value is comparable to value of Marvel, but valuation is only based on Star Wars alone – value of other Lucasfilm intellectual properties are in addition to this.
  • Disney plans to let ILM continue operating as it currently does.

NEW VIDEO: George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy discuss the future of Star Wars at Disney…

Whew! Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

Head's-up folks: Are any of you out there fans of the Criterion Collection? Yeah, we know you are! Our own Todd Doogan would like you to know that today Barnes & Noble kicks off their big 50% off art house films on DVD/BD sale, featuring the Criterion Collection! The sale extends only for a limited time but LOTS of great Criterion titles are available on disc for half off so hurry to take advantage!

Also this morning, Dr. Jahnke's posted his penultimate Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the year... Warner's Chernobyl Diaries on Blu-ray Disc! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for his final review of the Fest. What ghoulishly horrorific title has the Doctor saved for last? Check back in here at 12:01 AM tomorrow - Halloween itself - to find out!

Also today, as you can probably tell by the pictures and video on the news this afternoon, lot of people in the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy can all the support they can get right now. So please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross or a similar relief organization. Every little bit helps.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

Here's a bit of sad and tragic film-related news: The "tall ship" replica of the HMS Bounty used in filming the 1962 classic Mutiny on the Bounty (as well as some of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and others) has sunk off the coast of North Carolina in rough weather related to Hurricane Sandy. You can read more here at The Telegraph. Two members of its 16-person crew are still missing.

For all you Bits readers who live in the Northeast, which is about to get hit hard by Sandy, please stay safe. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with you and your families.

- Bill Hunt

Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the last week or October... and the final three days of Adam’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest!

In case you missed them on Thursday and Friday, Adam’s delivered reviews of the Steven King’s Sleepwalkers and the Hammer Films classic Twins of Evil, and his Oktoberfest review for today is none other than Jess Franco’s Exorcism (a.k.a. Demoniac)! Just two more Oktoberfest reviews to go for this year, so be sure to check back tomorrow for the penultimate entry!

In release news today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set the FX series Justified: The Complete Third Season for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/31 (SRP $65.99 and $55.99). You’ll get all 13 episodes along with deleted scenes, outtakes, cast and crew commentary on nine episodes and 3 featurettes (Crossing the Line: Making Season 3, Ellstin’s Joint: Nobles Holler Set Tour and Anatomy of a Stunt). The Blu-ray version will exclusively include one additional featurette (In Conversation:  Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins). You’ll find the cover artwork below.

Also, Warner Home Video has announced the Blu-ray Combo and DVD release of Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve on 12/18 (SRP $35.99 and $22.97). Extras will include a pair of featurettes (Rising through the Ranks and For the Love of the Game) plus an UltraViolet digital copy. Again, you’ll find the cover artwork below.

In other news today, Saban Entertainment and Lionsgate have set Power Rangers Samurai: A Team Divided - Volume 3 and Power Rangers Super Samurai: Rise of the BullZooka - Volume 3 for DVD only release on 1/15, followed by Lionsgate’s Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft on DVD only on 1/22.

Lionsgate has also set the Sam Raimi produced horror tale The Possession for Blu-ray and DVD release on 1/15 (SRP $39.99 and $29.95). Both versions will include audio commentary with director Ole Bornedal, a second commentary with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White and The Real History of the Dibbuk Box featurette. See the artwork below.

Image Entertainment has set Syfy’s Ghost Hunters Academy for DVD only release on 1/15 (SRP $24.98).

The BBC as set the original U.K. version of Call the Midwife: Season One for Blu-ray and DVD release on 11/6 (SRP $39.98 and $34.98).

Shout! Factory will release The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Three for DVD only release on 12/18. The set includes the final 10 episodes of the series plus commentaries, audition videos, deleted scenes, the original pilot and the Writers Conversation featurette.

And our friends at Blue Underground (via Entertainment One) have announced some February 2013 releases (all due 2/26), including a Midnight Movies Mondo Triple Feature DVD of Mondo Cane, Mondo Cane 2 and Women of the World, a Midnight Movies Suspense Triple Feature DVD of The Fifth Gord, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion and The Pyjama Girl Case and a Midnight Movies Shockumentary Triple Feature DVD of Africa: Blood & Cuts, Goodbye Uncle Tom and The Godfathers of Mondo. SRP is $19.98 each

In other news this afternoon, we’ve got some very cool soundtrack CD news: GNP Crescendo is releasing the complete score for Star Trek: Generations in a terrific 2-disc Expanded Collector’s Edition set. It’s due on 10/29 for $24.98. Pre-orders are being accepted now here at their online store.

We’ve learned that Costco currently appears to have an exclusive on DVD versions of Wuthering Heights and The Best Years of Our Lives from Warner Home Video. These will be released widely either right before Christmas or early next year. No word yet on Blu-ray versions (rest assured we’re trying to find out) but if you’ll recall these long out of print titles were part of Warner’s deal to acquire the home video release rights to some 74 titles from the Samuel Goldwyn library, which we first reported on way back in May. Warner’s going to be awfully busy in 2013. Thanks to Bits reader Ric. T for the heads-up on the Costco spot!

Lot of you have asked about my review of Prometheus - it’s coming very soon along with other big reviews. Working all the little bugs out of the redesigned site has taken up a lot of time, but I’ve now diving into review work so check back over the next few days.

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor and Native American activist Russell Means, who appeared in such films as The Last of the Mohicans, Natural Born Killers, Into the West and others. He died last week at the age of 72. More here.

Here’s a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Sony’s Justified: The Complete Third Season, Lionsgate’s The Possession and Warner’s Trouble with the Curve...

Justified: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Disc)    The Possession (Blu-ray Disc)    Trouble with the Curve (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

Evening, folks! We’ve some news plus a few interesting items here at the site for you today...

First up, Adam’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is a little bit of giallo from Italy via Kino Lorber’s Redemption line - none other than Mario Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon on Blu-ray. Adam’s also got a little write-up for you in his Bottom Shelf column about his recent jaunt up to the Lucasfilm Archives at the Skywalker Ranch for the Indiana Jones press event. Some cool pix in there, so do give it a look.

Our own Russell Hammond has also updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we certainly appreciate it!

Now then... the big news today is that Warner Home Video has set Easter Parade for Blu-ray release on 2/19 (SRP $19.98), including commentary by Ava Astaire McKenzie and John Fricke, 2 featurettes (Easter Parade: On the Avenue and American Masters - Judy Garland: By Myself), outtakes and dailies for Mr. Monotony, a radio promo, the Screen Guild Theater broadcast and the theatrical trailer.

Warner has also set Southland: The Complete Second, Third and Fourth Seasons for DVD only release on 2/5/13, followed by Family Matters: The Complete Third Season on DVD on 2/12.

Also, Warner and the BBC have announced The Hour: Season Two for (BD and DVD) release on 1/8/13, followed by Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1997 (on DVD) and Merlin: The Complete Fourth Season (BD and DVD) on 1/15 and Misfits: Season 2 (DVD) on 1/29.

Meanwhile, HBO will release Angry Boys on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/4, along with We Can Be Heroes on DVD only.

Image Entertainment has set the 1999 London/West End stage version of Oklahoma! (starring Hugh Jackman) for release on Blu-ray on 12/4.

Lionsgate has announced some of their January release slate, currently set to include Angelina Ballerina: Dance Around the World, Barney: Let’s Go to the Moon, Dance Moms Season 2: Volume 1, Dance Moms Season 2: Volume 2, The Inbetweeners Movie and Love Notes on 1/8/2013 (all DVD), and Branded (BD and DVD) and Counterpunch on 1/15.

Universal will release Guns, Girls and Gambling on BD and DVD on 1/8.

Shout! Factory has set Paul Newman’s directorial debut, Sometimes a Great Notion, for Blu-ray release on 12/18.

Paramount and Showtime have set Episodes: The Complete First & Second Seasons for DVD release on 1/8 as well.

Virgil Films will release the documentary High Ground on DVD only on 11/6.

And Saltwater Collective has set Minds in the Water for DVD only release on 11/13.

Finally, a quick note: I’ve corrected the text of yesterday’s post to reflect that the recent Warner/Paramount catalog deal EXCLUDES some 100 of Paramount’s key tent pole titles - not includes them as I’d originally written. What can I say, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while now and that post, which was written at about 5AM, obviously suffered for it. I’ve since had about 14 hours of badly needed sleep, so all’s well. Like the feller says, “Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes, well... he eats you.” Or some such.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

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Adam Jahnke

When An Honor To Be Nominated returns next month, it'll be all-new! So what Oscar-losing movie should I check out next?

by Adam Jahnke